The Beijing world champions also both broke world records in 2015

Ashton Eaton and Genzebe Dibaba have been named as male and female IAAF World Athletes of the Year for 2015.

Eaton and Dibaba both enjoyed world record-breaking seasons, Eaton in the decathlon and Dibaba in the 1500m, with both athletes claiming gold medals in those respective events at the World Championships in Beijing this summer.

Eaton is the first decathlete to win the annual award, and he wins it after competing in just one decathlon in 2015. The American broke his own world record in the event scoring 9045 points, nine better than his previous best, running a 45.00 time for the 400m in the process – the best one-lap time in decathlon history.

The 27-year-old, who beat Usain Bolt and Christian Taylor to the award, said: “Athletes spend the most vigorous years of human life, arguably called the ‘best years’, working to hone their abilities. So, when an athlete competes, what people are witnessing is the manifestation of what a human being is capable of when they choose to direct all of their time and effort towards something.

“I’m grateful and thankful to the IAAF for excellent competitions, the canvases that allow us to display our work.

“While I’m honoured that I am considered the ‘artist’ of the year, I did not beat Usain and Christian; my work simply differed in design. They are some of the most talented and beautiful performers of all time. I’m flattered to be among them.

“I accept this award on behalf of all of us athletes who love what we do.”

Dibaba saw off Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers and Polish hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk to claim the women’s prize.

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She started her 2015 off with a world indoor 5000m record of 14:18.86 before going on to break the 22-year-old 1500m world record outdoors at the Monaco Diamond League in a time of 3:50.07.

The Ethiopian younger sister of the great Tirunesh Dibaba took 1500m gold in Beijing as well as bronze in the 5000m.

Dibaba said: “After being a finalist and narrowly missing out on this award one year ago, I am very proud to be recognised by the fans and experts of our sport.

“I had a great season and truly enjoyed competing around the world, from Monaco where I managed to establish a world record, to Beijing where I finally captured my first world outdoor title.”

Part of the fallout from the recent doping revelations surrounding the IAAF and Russia was IAAF president Seb Coe’s announcement that the World Athletics Gala, which had been due to be held in Monaco to present the awards, would be cancelled as it was “not the time for the athletics family to be gathering in celebration of our sport”.

After Eaton and Dibaba were revealed as the 2015 winners, Coe said: “While the athletics family is not gathering together as usual in Monaco, we rightly celebrate the marvellous 2015 achievements of the athletes. Foremost, I offer congratulations to our World Athletes of the Year, world champions Ashton Eaton and Genzebe Dibaba. Your performances in 2015 are an inspiration and examples of true sporting excellence.

“A world record when winning a world title is a rare feat and capped two unequalled days of decathlon brilliance from Ashton in Beijing. Genzebe, your win in Beijing was as assured and your 1500m world record a few weeks earlier a run of true grit and determination. We salute you both as we do all our award winners who have been announced today.”

Other award winners include Japanese sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown and American sprinter Candace Hill (Rising Stars), Almaz Ayana (Golden Shoe for the best performance at the World Championships), Bart Bennema (World Journalist), and Britain’s David Heath and Germany’s Silke Schmidt (Masters’ Athletes of the Year).